School is in session and many sports have already begun. Although child and high school sports aren’t the most competitive in the world, they can be risky. Besides regular injuries, children and teens are at the highest risk for dental injuries during contact sports. Find out why this happens and what you can do to protect your mouth this school year not only on the field but off of it as well!
Sports and Mouth Injuries
Dentalcare reports that more than 5 million teeth are “avulsed” each year in contact sports. This is a fancy term meaning that more than 5 million teeth are knocked out or broken. So many dental injuries happen in sports, that the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that 13-39% of dental injuries each year are sports-related. The sad part? Most of those injuries are happening to children.
This comes in part because many parents and sports organizers may not realize that contact sports can get dangerous even when they only involve young children. The other factor is that many organized sports for children and even teens do not require mouth protection such as mouth guards. Having that simple dental device could protect your mouth and eliminate the risk of dental emergencies.
Instead of injuries to other parts of your head, the National Youth Sports Foundation found that dental injuries are actually the most common type of orofacial injury during sports. This is in part because many sports involve balls that are kicked or thrown, which can come in direct contact with the face. As many players face the ball, they are likely to get hit there instead of in the back of the head. This can break or knock a tooth out on contact, as can collisions with other players.
Common Dental Emergencies
When a dental injury happens during sports, it will likely be a dental emergency that needs immediate dental attention. The most common dental emergencies during sports without mouth protection include:
- Broken Teeth: A tooth break can result in complete tooth loss if your tooth center (the pulp with blood vessels and nerves) is exposed for too long. Bacteria can get in the area and cause infection and nerve damage, making you lose the tooth. A break can also result in a fractured tooth root or other breaks under the surface you can’t see. With any tooth break, rinse the area with warm water and recover any tooth fragments. Store the fragments in clean water or milk until you get to the dental office for help. Reduce swelling with a cold compress.
- Fractured Teeth/Tooth: A fracture or crack in a tooth is just as serious as a broken tooth. Bacteria, again, can get inside the crack and cause an infection inside your tooth within a few days or even less. That can lead to tooth death and tooth loss. Be especially careful with cracks that extend below the surface of your gum line, as you can lose your entire tooth without swift intervention by a dentist.
- Knocked-Out Tooth: This can be especially bad if it’s a permanent tooth, but it’s not impossible to restore the tooth. As soon as a tooth is knocked out, recover the tooth and place it in clean water or milk. Don’t handle the tooth by the root, but instead hold it by the crown. If possible, reinsert it in the socket and use clean cloth or gauze to keep it in place. With quick dental help, we may be able to get your natural tooth healed back into its original place. If not, a dental implant may be needed to maintain your mouth’s structure.
- Tooth Intrusion: Depending on how a child is hit, a tooth could be driven back into the jawbone. With children, the jaw bones are softer, which is how this can happen. The tooth and it’s pulpy center could die or the tooth roots may be reabsorbed by the body, which shortens your tooth. Without quick help, the tooth can also fuse to the alveolar bone in the jaw.
Protect Your Mouth
All of these dental emergencies can be avoided if you protect your mouth correctly when you play sports. Part of that protection is practicing great oral hygiene. When you brush and floss your teeth several times a day as recommended, your teeth will be stronger and more resistant to breaking. Poor oral hygiene leads to weaker teeth that can break, crack or be knocked out much easier.
Did you know that an athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain a dental injury if they do not wear a mouthguard? That’s why it’s critical to protect your mouth with a mouth guard if you participate in contact sports or any sport involving other players. If you have a child in sports, make sure they have a protective mouth guard even if it’s not a requirement to play. That mouth guard should be one that is fitted to the child’s mouth by a dentist.
There are plastic mouth guards you can buy at supermarkets and sports stores. However, these are one-size-fits-all and often are not great protection for children and teens. The guards are so big that all that extra space inside the guard can cause a hit to the mouth to still break or knock-out teeth. You want to protect your mouth with a fitted guard. For last-minute guards, boil-and-bite guards can be fine. These can fit more snug to your teeth, but they often don’t cover your teeth all the way.
Custom-made mouth guards can be made by dentists from exact replica impressions they’ve made from your child’s teeth. That means your child gets a very snug mouthguard that won’t be incredibly bulky, but that will protect against injury. If you want to protect your mouth during sports this season and keep your smile protected, call Dr. Evanson’s office for your free consultation at (720) 409-0008!Leave a reply →